Biological E. Limited has licensed the recombinant protein vaccine candidate through negotiations with the BCM Ventures team, part of Baylor College of Medicine, after initial discussions on Baylor’s technology and how it could possibly inform production of a vaccine to address the current global pandemic.
The biopharmaceutical company, which has supplied other vaccines to over 100 countries since its founding in 1953, will leverage its past experience to globalize the vaccine once it is completed, according to the Baylor announcement. One of those targets will be India.
“This week’s information that India has become the third-leading nation in terms of COVID-19 cases has sparked concern that COVID-19 will become widespread and a serious and deadly infection across the crowded urban areas of South Asia,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor and co-director of Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development, in the release. “This is why this agreement is timely.”
India has reported nearly 2.4 million total COVID-19 cases since the pandemic reached its borders, with more than 650,000 active cases, 1.7 million hospital discharges and over 47,000 deaths, according to the country’s ministry of health and family welfare.
Hotez and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi are co-leading the team working on developing the vaccine, which draws from experience the team gained between 2011-16 when developing the SARS vaccine. The Baylor team is using time-saving, parallel and rapid-switch strategies as well as critical scientific information that may help accelerate the development of a safe and effective vaccine.
The research hospital’s vaccine development should not be confused with the Phase 3 clinical trials currently underway for Moderna’s investigational mRNA-1273 vaccine, which are being tested at Baylor’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit—one of 90 sites nationwide.
Baylor’s vaccine candidate, meanwhile, is still in pre-clinical trials, with no timeline yet set as to when it will enter clinical trials, according to the Milken institute, which tracks over 200 vaccines worldwide in development.